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Lung Transplantation May Extend Lives in Children With Cystic Fibrosis

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"We are encouraged by our findings," Aurora says, explaining that the key is to select candidates for lung transplant very carefully. He says that the transplant should extend the child's life longer than the predicted length of time without the transplant. "If others follow our criteria for accepting patients for transplantation, they could expect a survival benefit for their patients in line with our results."

Aurora adds that unless survival without transplantation improves dramatically, priority should be given for cystic fibrosis patients with terminal lung disease. He notes that fewer than half of the children accepted for transplantation in the U.K. during the study period received organs.

This is the same problem facing cystic fibrosis patients in the U.S. According to Suzanne R. Pattee, vice president of public policy and patient affairs at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in Bethesda, Md., people with CF have trouble obtaining lung transplants in a timely fashion, and more people are dying while on transplant waiting lists. "We want to promote the unique needs of people with CF in any new national policies on organ transplantation," Pattee said in a prepared statement. "We want to make sure that people with CF have timely access to transplants."

Lung transplantation has been available for patients suffering from terminal lung disease since the early 1980s, but because of the low survival rate there is a great deal of controversy concerning the cost and benefits.

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